04.15.11

Senate Unanimously Adopts Leahy-Authored Food Safety Bill

Food Safety Accountability Act Strengthens Criminal Penalties For Food Violations

WASHINGTON (Friday, April 15, 2011) – The U.S. Senate Thursday night unanimously adopted legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to strengthen criminal penalties for companies that knowingly violate food safety standards and place tainted food products on the market.

“Food safety received considerable attention last year, and I was pleased that Congress finally passed comprehensive food safety reforms.  But our work is not done,” said Leahy.  “On behalf of the hundreds of individuals sickened by recent salmonella outbreaks, I urge the House to quickly pass the Food Safety Accountability Act and join the Senate in continuing to improve our food safety system.”

The Food Safety Accountability Act will increase criminal penalties for any individual or corporation that knowingly endangers American lives by contaminating the food supply by distributing misbranded or tainted food products. The legislation will increase the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony, establishing fines and giving law enforcement the ability to seek prison sentences of up to 10 years for such offenses.  The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which unanimously approved the bill in March.  The panel first approved the legislation in September 2010.  Leahy had sought to include the criminal penalties bill in the broader FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law early this year. 

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